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.0 BY W. H. JAMES WEALE an
HE Imperial Gallery at Vienna contains two undoubtedly authentic works by john van Eyck. The larger of theseI is a portrait of a fine old ecclesiastic seen to the waist, modelled in a yellowish tone with few flesh tints and no deep shadow. Bareheaded, he wears a loose crimson robe edged at the neck and arm openings with white fur; the straight vertical folds of this robe, the arms and hands not being seen, give it an elegant bell-shaped appearance. The person’s head is turned to the right, his vigorous and closely-shaven face, seen in three-quarter profile with the light falling directly on it, is full of expression. There is quite a charm about the little brownish eyes which seem to be looking out from beneath the eyebrows with a keen scrutinizing glance, while a pleasant playful smile hovers about the mouth. The numerous wrinkles of the forehead and the folds of the skin of the face and of the neck up to the root of the ear are marked by fine reddish strokes; the left ear, seen in light, is admirably drawn. The short scanty grey hairs of his head, in a state of confusion, seem to tremble beneath each other, and the blood to be circulating under the relaxed skin and in the veins of the pupils of his eyes. Dark background, lighter and bluish near the head.
This painting was formerly described as the portrait of Jodocus Vydt, the donor of the Ghent altarpiece, at an advanced age. In the catalogue of the gallery published in 1884, Mr. E. von Engerth entitled it the portrait of the cardinal of Saint Cross, relying on the authority of an inven— tory of the collection of the Archduke
Low Countries, drawn up in the year 1659. Mr. L. Kaemmerer2 in 1898 threw doubt on the correctness of this ascription, justly remarking that this portrait does not bear the slightest resemblance to the effigy of Cardinal Dominic Capranica on his tomb at Siena.3 The painting, however, does not represent Capranica,but the blessed Nicolas Albergati. This eminent prince of the church, born at Bologna in 1375, was the son of Peter N icholasAlbergati and Philippa, only daughter of Dr. Bartholomew Chiopetti. He entered the order of the Carthusians when in his twentieth year, was successively prior of the monastery of Saint jerome outside Bologna in 14.06, of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem at Rome, and procurator-general of the order in 14.07, rector of the newly-founded monastery of the Holy Trinity at Mantua from 1409 to 14.1 6,and again prior ofBologna from 1416 till the end of March 14.17, when he was elected bishop of Bologna. Created a cardinal priest by Martin V, May 24., 1456, he took for his titular church the Holy Cross of Jerusalem. In his humility he discarded his family arms and substituted for them a simple cross. A model of all priestly and episcopal virtues, he continued to observe the austere rule of the Carthusians, sleeping on straw, never eating flesh-meat, wearing a hair shirt, and rising at midnight to pray. Nine times he was sent by the H01 See on arduous embassies in which he combined the greatest prudence in difficult matters of worldly policy with perfect uprightness and integrity.4 In 14.31 he was sent on an embassy to the kings of France and England and the duke of Burgundy to try to bring about a general peace.
Leopold William, governor-general of the ‘ No. 824. H. 35 c., B. 29 e., the head :5 c. There is a. fine
etching of this portrait by Unger, 18.5x 14.5, and a chromo
xylograph by H. Par, 2: x 17.7. Reproduced on page 193.
' ' Hubert und Jan van Eyck,’ p. 72.
' This prelate was created a cardinal deacon by Martin V, 23 July 1423, but the nomination was not published until 8 November r430 ; on the 19th of that month he took for his titular church Sancta Maria in Via lata. It was not until after Albergati's death in 1443 that he was raised to the dignity of cardinal priest with the title of Saint Cross. See Chacon, 'Vitae et res gestae pontificum summorum,’ II, r110, Romae, 1630; Pastor, 'History of the Popes,’ 2nd ed., II 26x and 264-266, London, 1899, and Eubel in ' Remisehe Quartalschrift,‘ XVII, 274-275. Rome, 1903.
t In a letter to Charles VII of France, Eugenius IV says that he sends the cardinal of Saint Cross ' virum sapientissimum, magnaque auctoritate, ut nosti, et procul ab omni passione remoturn, cuius omnes eogitationes, omnia consilia tendunt ad concordiam, ad pacem.’
Tortraitr by Job; wan Eyck at Vierma
The duke had been about to proceed to Holland when he heard that the cardinal was coming to see him. Returning at once to Brussels he sent messengers in every direction to the principal ecclesiastical and lay dignitaries of his dominions, bidding them come to him so that the pope’s legate might be received with all due solemnity.
The cardinal, accompanied by Amé Bourgois, one of the duke’s councillors and chamberlains, arrived at Enghien early in October 1431. He came to Brussels,where he was received by Philip surrounded by his court on the 18th of that month. Thence he returned to En ghien with Amé Bourgois, who accompanied him to Ghent, where he arrived on November 3 and stayed until the 6th. Thence he went to Lille. Later on he visited Bruges, where he spent two or three days between December 8 and 1 1.
The duke meantime had sent letters to the authorities of those towns bidding them receive the cardinal with the honours due to him. One of the letters sent to Bruges was probably addressed to John van Eyck bidding him paint the portrait of the cardinal. As his stay in Bruges was very brief, it was impossible to paint it from life, and van Eyck was therefore unable to do more than make a careful drawing of his likeness and write minutely detailed notes as to the colour of the eyes and hair and the tints of the flesh. This most beautiful drawing in silver-point on a white ground is preserved in the royal cabinet of prints at Dresden.5 It is even more lifelike and more individual than the painting; especially is this the case with the mouth and the lower portion of the face. In the painting van Eyck seems to have endeavoured to embellish the form of the head so that
it should appear less heavy and broad. Kaemmerer suggests that probably the vanity of the ecclesiastic—which he thinks evidenced by his fur-trimmed crimson robe —-led him to give the painter a hint to that effect 6 ; rather a rash judgement, for a cardinal legate of the pope could hardly be represented in more simple attire. Michiels describes the features as soft and insignificant, showing that this ecclesiastic could not possibly have been a remarkable personage.7 Engerth dates the drawing between 1433 and 14.35.8 Voll looks on it as a very diligent copy of the painting, and says that it has none of the freshness and lifelike energy of the latter, so much so, indeed, that one might almost believe it to be the portrait of another man.9 He considers it highly improbable that John would paint a portrait from a drawing. Kaemmerer, on the other hand, looks on the drawing as evidence of John’s usual method of proceeding.10 Both of these critics are, in my opinion, equally wrong. There can be little doubt that this was an exceptional case due to the circumstance of the car— dinal’s brief sojourn at Bruges.
The drawing, here reproduced, was, I am informed by Dr. Lehrs, unfortunately exhibited for some years, and now bafi-les all attempts to decipher the writing along the dexter side. As, however, I have succeeded better than others, it will perhaps be well to give the results here. There are in all sixteen lines. I read on line 2, ‘ vnd die nase sanguynachtich,’ and the nose reddish ; line 3, ‘claer blewachtich,’ light bluish; line 4, ‘rotte purpurachtich,’ purplish red; line 5, ‘van den augen,’ of the eyes; line 6, ‘swart um,’ black about; line 7, ‘und mit,’ and with ; line 1 3, ‘ die lippen zeer witachtich,’ the lips very whiteish. Many of these words were not in use in Flanders or Brabant in the fifteenth century ; they evidently belong to a dialect spoken in a district nearer to Germany, and may very probably have been in use in John van Eyck’s native town.
"-1.212, 8.180 millimeters. Acquired before1765. Reproduced on page 195.
5 ' Hubert and Jan van Eyck.’ p. 72. Leipzig, 1898. 7 'I-Iistoire de la Peinture Flamande,‘ and ed., II, 293, Paris, 18§6Catalogue of 1884, II. 134.
' ' Die Werke des Jan van Eyck,‘ pp. 75-78, Strassburg, 1900. I“ Op. cit., p. 72, col. 2.
It may interest some of our readers to learn that the duke sent the cardinal as a present some tapestry woven by John Le Vallois of Arras, who probably executed the Hardwick hunting scenes. The subject represented in this tapestry is not known, but the parcel weighed 700 1b., and the cost of its carriage from Brussels to Bruges was 49 shillings.
The other portrait is a half-length figure of a man of thirty-five years of age with a fine head rather less than life-size, on a green background ; the face beardless seen in three-quarters turned to the right, with small deep-set grey eyes looking straight out at the spectator, short nose, fine upper lip, and a long chin.11 The broad forehead and keen glance of the eyes give the impression of a highly intelligent man with an energetic will. He wears a dark fiJrtrimmed robe and a black cap ; his hands are placed before his waist ; between the thumb and forefinger of his right hand he holds a ring as if showing it. The head is modelled with John’s usual care, but the beauty of the face is somewhat marred by the same unpleasant reddish tint of the flesh that characterizes the figures in the Bruges altarpiece painted about the same time; the hands, too, as often in his portraits, are weak as if drawn hastily. The original frame bears the following inscription :
IAN DE (a lion sejant on a square base
with a step) OP SANT ORSELEN DACH
DAT CLAER ERST MET OGHEN sAcn. 14.01.
GHECONTERFEIT Nv HEEFT MI IAN
VAN 1:ch WEL BLIJCT WANNERT BEGAN.
The picture has suffered by cleaning, and, doubtless owing to the colour having less intensity and charm than usual, it has received but scant notice from writers on the master’s works. One exception, however, must be noticed—Dr. Voll, who, apparently blind to the strong impression of personality so thoroughly evidencingJohn’s hand, tries to throw doubt on the authenticity of the work, which he contends either dates from the end of the fifteenth century or is a forgery. This astounding judgement is based on theinscription which contains two chronograms, the second of which he endeavours to prove to be faulty. His contention is that the 1 jin ‘blijct’ and the Y in ‘ Eyck’ must each be reckoned as equivalent either to 1 or else to 2. This is, however, sheer nonsense ; no educated Fleming would ever think of making Eyck a dissyllable E-ijck. Both chronograms are quite correct ; D in mediaeval times did not count.
Who was De Leeuwe, the individual represented ? Woltmann and Reber both dub him a canon. He was however a wealthy craftsman, born October 2 1, 14.01, who, after holding minor offices in the gild of gold and silver smiths in 1430-31 and 1435-36, was chosen dean in 14.4.1. The lion sejant is the mark he used, and stands for his name, which if written would have added sixty-five to the chronogram. When Duke Philip, after a long absence in Germany, returned to Bruges in 14.55 the townspeople decorated the fronts of their houses, and the decorations and illumination of De Leeuwe’s house having far surpassed all others, the town council presented him with the sum of 36 s. gr.‘2 His name occurs for the last time in a document dated July 20, 1456.
1‘ Imperial Gallery, 825. Oak, 33x28 c.; the head, 10 c. Etched by Unger, 10 x 8 c. Reproduced on page 197.
1’ Betaelt Ianne den Leeuwe, de selversrnid, over de pgise die ghegheven waren den ghone die best vierdo ende
t lichtet ten voorseyden incommene, xxxvj s. gr., valent xle. xij s. p. Account of the treasurers of the town, 1454-55, fol. 51v.